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February 2019

$2M Donation Moves  Habonim  Closer to Goal

August 1 2018

I wanted to share thoughts with you about recent happenings at Habonim and the historic nature of events that have occurred in our congregation just the past couple of weeks.

On July 16th, the groundbreaking for our new synagogue took place under somewhat unusual circumstances. With thunderstorms in the area and a deluge of rain, ceremonies were moved to the premises of our loyal friends at the Grace Tabernacle church, across the street from the construction site, emblematic of Habonim’s friendship with people of all faiths. 

We received good wishes from our aboriginal friends and a warm message of friendship and gratitude for the exemplary work Habonim members have pursued in support of so many beyond our congregation. We also heard from Holocaust survivors and their descendants about how much the new building means to them, and received greetings and encouraging words from politicians from every level of government.

When the rain stopped, we were able to move back across the street - outdoors for the ceremonial groundbreaking pictures. Miraculously, a rainbow suddenly appeared overhead, creating an absolutely picturesque backdrop for the event! May that rainbow be a symbol of hope and peace, in memory of the Holocaust survivors who had the foresight to establish our unique congregation and for all who will have the good fortune of using the new building for many years to come.

The capital campaign has been extremely successful – we had raised $9.6 million as of the date of the groundbreaking, but with costs projected at about $13.5 million and our goal of being mortgage free, the Board has been hard at work to secure additional contributions.

In this regard, I am extremely grateful to report that, last week, we received a $2 million commitment from the Sherman family, enabling Honey & Barry’s z”l legacy of exceptional generosity to live on as part of Habonim.

Honey, a daughter of Holocaust survivors, participated on the March of the Living, and was deeply committed to Holocaust education, and very much enjoyed attending Habonim’s High Holiday services with members of her family last year. And although Barry was a self-proclaimed non-believer, he could always be counted on to support the social and humanitarian efforts Habonim is so often involved in. 

This remarkable gift is yet one more example of the positive impact Barry and Honey, and now their children, continue to have on our community and beyond. 

The Sherman gift has set the stage for a strong finish to the campaign as we continue to reach out to long-time members yet to make their gift and to new members who will benefit from the new building for many years to come. The campaign now stands at $11.6 million and our financial goal of a mortgage-free building is clearly in sight! Equally important, is the goal of 100% membership participation in the campaign. If you have not made your commitment yet, or would like to add to one you have already made, I would welcome a call from you to discuss your participation. 

Please remember: No gift is too small! Every dollar counts and will help us continue to build the beautiful community that Habonim is to so many. 

Unfortunately, not all news is good. Habonim lost a valued member of our congregation this month. Barrie Rose, a visionary leader and philanthropist in Toronto’s Jewish community, passed away on July 15th, just one day before the groundbreaking ceremony. A truly progressive thinker and a supporter of numerous causes within and outside the Jewish community, Barrie was one of our lead donors to the capital campaign and a true friend of Habonim. He will be deeply missed but his memory will live on through the numerous good projects he supported over the years.

The past few weeks’ events have been of historic significance for our congregation. The groundbreaking - rainbow and all, a hugely significant gift from the Sherman family, and, sadly, the loss of one of our treasured members.

As we begin to prepare for the New Year, these events should serve as reminders to all of us of the importance of doing good and the very special place Habonim holds in the hearts of those we touch.

I look forward to seeing all of you at our 2018 Habonim High Holiday services, once again held at Leo Baeck School – and, of course, at our 2019 High Holiday services in our NEW building!

May we all continue to go from strength to strength,

Eli Rubenstein

Religious Leader

                  Habonim Groundbreaking, July 16, 2018

Habonim Building Update – September 2017

We are pleased to report that Habonim has completed a deal with Leo Baeck Day School (LBDS) to use their building as Habonim’s temporary home during our construction period. LBDS has a beautiful renovated school in Cedarvale, which boasts a lovely, large auditorium, and modern, bright classrooms for our day school.

Another great development is that Habonim has now entered into a 15 year License Agreement with Brightpath Learning Centres. Brightpath will operate a day care on the second floor of our new building, during weekdays when we will not be using the space. This License agreement will provide Habonim with much needed income to help cover operating costs, as well as staffing and programming expenses.

On July 10th, 2017, the synagogue hosted an open forum for members to express their opinions regarding the design of the new building. Our architect, Guela Solow-Ruda of ARK Design and her colleague Robert Boyd walked everyone through the proposed floor plan and showed renderings of various elevations. These drawings are also available on the website A lively discussion ensued with members bringing forward questions and suggestions about accessibility, acoustics, technology and more. The Design and Construction committees are working diligently to incorporate these comments from the members.

There are many individuals in the congregation with expertise in the construction field and a few strong candidates have stepped up to lead us through the process. Jordan Slatt will be chairing the Construction Committee going forward. He, along with a sub-committee, went through a rigorous search to hire a project manager as our representative in dealings with both the architect and the general contractor. They selected Nick Zouravlioff, an engineer with many years of experience in this area. Nick’s most recent project was to manage the construction of the new Alpine Ski Chalet, which came in on time and under budget.

As we move into the fall, the architects will be working towards preparing the plans for permit submission by year end and Nick will be pre-qualifying general contractors. The plans will go to tender at the beginning of 2018 with the anticipation of March 1, 2018 as the start date and June/July 2019 as the completion date.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call or drop a note.

Joanie Smith

President, Habonim


Joel Kwinter

Vice-President, Habonim



Habonim Building Update – June 2017


Committee of Adjustment approval and campaign tops $9 million!

I wanted to share some great news with the Congregation.

Earlier this month, our new building was unanimously approved at the Committee of Adjustment.

This key step initially faced some challenges from neighbours and on parking issues over the past year. It took a long time to work through these items, but with this unanimous approval, we can finally move to the next major steps on building. These include putting together full building plans (until all adjustments were approved it was not cost effective to move forward on building plans), hiring a project manager, getting building plans approved by the City, selecting a construction firm and beginning construction.

The other great news is that just recently one of our members increased their gift to the building Campaign from $100,000 to $1,000,000 and another member doubled their commitment from $200,000 to $400,000!

With these gifts, our fundraising now stands at $9.1 million – just $400,000 from reaching our target of $9.5 million and a debt-free new building. We have been blessed with generosity from a wide range of members, with each gift playing an important part in helping fund our new building. We are now at 96% of the way to our goal, with 75% of our members having made a donation.

If you have not already given your support, or you would like to increase your donation, our target is in reach. Every pledge at every level gets us that much closer.

To give online, please visit: With the Congregation’s tremendous support, things are moving in the right direction.

As for timing, our current forecast would be to have the new building open by March 2020.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give me a call at 416-807-6222 or send me a note at

With appreciation,

Ted Rechtshaffen

President, Habonim

Habonim Building Update – December 2016

After the very busy High Holiday season, we have continued to work hard on putting all of the pieces together for our new building.



Over the past couple of months we have had many Habonim families make a donation to the new building, and I am pleased to say that nearly 70% of Habonim members have now responded to the campaign, and we remain committed to reaching 100% by the end of the campaign.

Just prior to High Holidays we had raised $6.6 million and today we are just under $8 million.  At this stage we would love to have a few more families make a donation prior to year end to put us well over the very important $8 million mark.  Our goal remains $9.5 million, and we are confident that we can reach this number before the building is complete.


Construction and Timing

While we have made important progress on parking issues and with our neighbours, there remain some steps required before we receive our Building Permit from the City.  We are working hard to make quicker progress, but delays with the City have put our timeline back a little.

Our current target is to begin construction by August 2017 with the new Building completed in the Spring of 2019.  It is still possible that these times could move, but this is our current target.


If you have any questions, suggestions or would like to make a donation, please don’t hesitate to contact me at


Happy Hanukah and a Happy (Other) New Year,


Ted Rechtshaffen

Fundraising and Construction News  April 25, 2016

Since our General Meeting in late February, when the Congregation voted 96% in favour of moving ahead prudently with a new building, we are doing just that.


As a quick recap of the plan:

*We are planning to build a new building in the same place as the current building, but also take over the land at 11 and 15 Glen Park.  These are two houses that are owned by Congregation Habonim.

*The building would be two stories and have a full basement.  The plan is to have Day Care using the second story school space, Monday to Friday.

*The larger space will allow for a small increase in membership, but we will continue to have double services on High Holidays.

*We will have ample space for small and medium sized Simchas.


Our best case timing would be to begin building after High Holidays 2016.  For this to take place, we would need to have a few things all go well.  These would be Fundraising, Building and Construction Planning.



Our immediate focus is to ensure that sufficient fundraising dollars are in place as we will only begin construction once 70% of the budget has been committed. 

With a goal of $10 million, I am extremely pleased to report that we already have  commitments for $5.75 million.  Gifts have ranged from $10,000 to $1,000,000 as our members clearly recognize the importance of the moment and have stepped forward to help make this once in a generation opportunity come to fruition.

We hope to raise another $1 to $2 million before the summer and will be reaching out over the next few weeks to members we hope will help bring us closer to our goal.

Specifically, we are hoping to secure at least 25 more leadership gifts of $18,000, $25,000, $36,000 or more (all payable over 5 years) during this period.  And for those in a position to contribute $100,000 or more, there are meaningful naming opportunities we would be happy to discuss with you.

While our immediate focus must necessarily be on securing larger gifts,  our goal is for every member to have a stake in the new building, with every family playing a role in building our new home.   For those who can’t contribute at the major gift levels, there will be ample opportunity to participate at a level of giving you are comfortable.   And with every member making a commitment at a personally meaningful level,  we will undoubtedly be successful in creating a wonderful building for generations to come.

A new building for a synagogue is a once in a lifetime opportunity for its membership.  We hope that all those who are financially able to do so, will view this as a gift to themselves, a gift to the long term legacy of Habonim, and to their children and grandchildren.   

If you would like to discuss your personal gift, please send a quick note to and we will connect with you right away.


Building Planning

Before construction planning can truly begin, we need to have full building plans approved by the City.


This is a long journey, and I believe we are about 80% of the way there.


Our remaining challenges – which we are working to overcome – relate to parking spaces and working with the community.


On the parking front, we simply can’t build enough parking without significantly limiting the size of the building or it being cost prohibitive.  We are currently working with a couple of neighbourhood organizations to partner with on overflow parking.  We believe that this should solve the parking issue.


In terms of working with the community, as with any successful project, we want to work well with our neighbours.  To that end we have gone door to door to explain the plans further and will be having community meetings with interested neighbours to ensure that we are being as accommodative as we can to their needs.



Construction Planning

Last week our Construction Committee had our first meeting.  This Committee will be overseeing the Project Manager, Builders and Tradespeople, to ensure that we are working with the best people for our project.  This Committee will do their best to ensure that the project is on time and on budget.


Because this is the part of the project that is still in its earliest stage, it is a little premature to discuss detailed timing, but we believe the project will take 18 to 21 months to complete. 


We are still looking for another individual or two to join this Committee.  In particular, we are looking for those with Construction Project Management experience.


If you are interested in finding out more, please contact me directly at



We are very excited about the progress to date, and will keep you informed of all the news related to the project over the coming weeks.


Best wishes for a Happy Passover,



Ted Rechtshaffen

President, Congregation Habonim



Update  Monday  February 29, 2016


Yesterday afternoon at the General Meeting, attendees heard about the rationale, designs and financials around a new building for Congregation Habonim.


Between proxy votes and in person votes, the results were 198 in favour and 8 opposed.


With this clear mandate from the membership, the Board of Congregation Habonim will move forward prudently with the next steps in the process.


These include continuing with fundraising efforts that have resulted in commitments of over $5 million to date.

Other key steps include working with the City on getting approval to build a new building.


As mentioned at the meeting, the Board is committed to moving forward in a conservative and responsible manner that manages the financials closely.  This means that moving forward remains dependent on achieving fundraising goals first and then proceeding on a building that is in line with the fundraising achieved.


We look forward to your support of this exciting project and to sharing news with you over the coming weeks and months.


Best regards,


Ted Rechtshaffen

President, Congregation Habonim

Habonim Building Update and General Meeting, February 28, 4:30pm




A great deal of work and discussion has been happening over the past few months on the new building for Congregation Habonim and I wanted to share some of this exciting news with you.

This note is meant to provide you with an overview of where we are to date.

Fundraising Highlights:

  • Four member families have made a $1 million commitment each – for a total of $4 million towards the cost of the new building. This tremendous financial support represents just under half of the total $9-$10 million that we are hoping to raise to cover all of the costs of the project.                                                                                                                                     
  • In addition to those four Leadership gifts, we already have another $500,000+ in committed gifts from a small group of other Habonim families. Combined with the Leadership gifts, we are approaching 50% of the way towards our goal.                                 
  • In the next couple of months we will be talking to another small group of families about the potential of making Foundational gifts of $100,000 or more.                                                   
  • Congregation Habonim will NOT be doing a traditional Building Fund. All donations will be done on a voluntary basis. When the time comes, we will be asking all members to give what they can towards the Building. The plan is that all of these gifts can be made over a time frame of up to 5 years – as an example, a $10,000 donation could be done as $2,000 a year for 5 years.                                                                                                                    
  • With the tremendous early support, we are confident that if we all do our part, we will be able to achieve our $9-$10 million goal.

Building Highlights:

  1. We are currently working with the City towards getting a Building Plan approved. If all goes well with the City, we could have our Building Plan approved by this Summer.               
  2. Featured plans of the new building could include (subject to change):                                
    • An east facing Sanctuary                                                                                            
    • A beautiful Courtyard immediately behind the Bimah. This Courtyard – which could hold outdoor events in nice weather – would provide a tremendous, glass walled, natural backdrop to all our services.                                                                              
    • A wonderful facility that could manage full services and receptions. Habonim could truly be your home for Weddings, B’nai Mitzvahs and other family events.                   
    • A Sanctuary that would be larger than our current facilities, but not significantly larger. We want to maintain a smaller community feel.
    • A full second floor which would likely house a Day Care during the week, and would house our School on Sundays and possibly weekday evenings. This second floor will also include an outdoor play area.                                                                   
    • A basement that will allow more room for Simchas, Bridge, School space, and Youth programming.                                                                                                      
    • A larger lobby area that will include a number of features related to Habonim History, our Legacy and our Future.                                                                              
  3. Timing: We believe that a New Building could be open some time between High Holidays 2018 and High Holidays 2019.

I believe that the year ahead will be a very exciting one for Congregation Habonim. 

All the best,

Ted Rechtshaffen
President, Congregation Habonim

Mon, September 23 2019 23 Elul 5779